By Mike Pound
CARTHAGE, Mo. — Word of the Texas bus crash that killed at least 15 Vietnamese Catholics and injured at least 40 others spread rapidly through the grounds of the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix, a seminary in Carthage where some 40,000 Vietnamese are gathered for the annual Marian Days celebration.
The charter bus, carrying 55 members of a Catholic church in Houston, was en route to Carthage when it skidded off a freeway about 12:45 a.m. Friday near Sherman, Texas. Officials said 16 of the injured were in critical condition.
Sherman is about 65 miles north of Dallas.
The bus smashed into a guardrail on a bridge that’s about 15 feet above a creek. The bus apparently skidded along the guardrail before sliding off U.S. 75 at the far end of the bridge. Authorities say the right front tire of the bus had blown out, but an exact cause of the accident remained under investigation.
The investigation, which will be conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board, could take 12 to 18 months.
The bus operator, Iguala BusMex Inc. of Houston, had applied in June for a federal license to operate as a charter, but was still awaiting approval, according to online records.
The company recently filed incorporation papers, listing the same owner and address as Angel Tours Inc., which was forced by federal regulators to take its vehicles out of interstate service June 23 after an unsatisfactory review, records show. Details of the review were not in the online records.
Neither entity is currently authorized to operate as a carrier in interstate commerce, said John H. Hill, administrator for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
“We have requested law enforcement agencies to be alert for any buses being operated by Angel Tours or Iguala BusMex, since they are not authorized to operate legally,” he said in a written statement. “If found on the road, we want law enforcement to immediately stop and place the vehicles out of service.”
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